Where hope meets potential.
I love hearing how readers are moved and challenged and inspired by Stronger than Death. Some responses have even moved me to near tears.
I spoke at an English language school for adults in Djibouti. After my talk and an engaging Q/A time, students gathered in small groups to continue the discussion. One young man wrote his thoughts out and read them to the group. I asked if I could take a photo of his words and he gave me the paper. This is what he wrote:
“A good person is someone who displays love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, humility, patience, and she was faithful, and endures all things. Annalena was someone who displays self-control and considers others more important than herself. Annalena was a good listener and someone who displayed integrity and dignity and accountability toward others.”
This was so beautiful and it was incredibly meaningful that he picked up on these character traits. The conversation around the tables included things like how hard it can be serve, when other people tell you to not bother, or how disappointing it can be when service is rejected. We talked about how we can all take one little step, like picking up one piece of trash. Or how we can sit beside someone who is sick and be a loving, caring presence, even if we don’t have money to help treat their illness. And how we can hope to motivate others by our example.
It was lovely.
Here is from another reader. People have asked how I think Annalena would react to having a book written about her and I hope Jodie is right:
“I finished it with the sense that Annalena would be proud – even as one who didn’t like all the attention – because you portrayed her in her humanness as well as her saintlikeness.” Jodie P.
Someone else told me they finished the book with tears in their eyes and with ideas for how to be more aware of students in her classroom who might need a little extra affection or attention.
Another person told me she would use this book to help explain some of her Somali history and culture to her American coworkers.
Thanks to all for your feedback, for reading, and for sharing.
Don’t forget to leave a review and be sure to share the book with your friends and family! Maybe a great Christmas gift…!
I am so excited to share that the Stronger than Death book tour continues, and it has come to Djibouti.
An international book tour is every author’s dream and it certainly helps that I live abroad! This will be the third country I’ve visited to talk about the book. After a month in the United States, I spent four days in Kenya and spoke to about 8 high school classes about the book, about writing, and publishing, and more. And now, the book discussions are in my “home” country, Djibouti.
If you live here, come on out!
If you can’t make these dates, I’d still love to connect with you about the book. Maybe a local book club? A coffee date to talk writing? A student or school group interested in the writing and publishing process?
Get in touch!
Here’s where the book and I will be this week.
Thursday, November 14, 6:30 pm (1830h) at Ecole Emanuele, sharing with English language learners.
Saturday, November 16, 4:30 pm (1630h) at Villa Camille. Enjoy the beautiful atmosphere of this unique cafe and social space, order delicious food from their menu, and hear about the fascinating life and work of Annalena Tonelli. Book discussion, audience Q/A, and book signing. (There will be books available for purchase).
The book is also available for purchase at the International School of Djibouti (and out of the trunk of our Jeep! There are also hard copies of Finding Home and Welcome to Djibouti available).
I wrote an essay called What Happened When Jesus Told a Woman to Go Home in my newsletter: Stories from the Horn, last week. If you want to read that essay, sign up here.
Following up on that, here is part 2 of my response to John MacArthur’s video comments from a few weeks ago.
Many people couldn’t watch past the “narcissist” comments and the laughter. But had we continued to watch, we would have heard words that call into question the valid (and necessary and good and beautiful) contribution and basic humanity of Christians of color and marginalized communities.
In an article for the Religion News Service, Rozella Haydée White address this. She writes, “Later in the recording, MacArthur criticizes a suggestion that Latinos, African Americans and women should henceforth be necessary members of Southern Baptist Bible translation committees. He also objects to a resolution agreed to at the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2019 national meeting that deems intersectionality — the theory, developed by Black feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, that describes how overlapping social identities create interconnected systems of oppression — as a useful tool for biblical interpretation.”
The problem with MacArthur’s words weren’t just his treatment of Beth Moore or Paula White, but his dismissive attitude toward people of color and other marginalized communities.
Later on in the video, he seems to claim that people (read marginalized people and minorities) who believe their voices matter and should be part of dialogue, are only after power. And that because they (in his opinion) are after power (apparently for power’s sake), on that basis alone, they should be excluded from the conversation.
I don’t see how wanting to be heard, especially wanting an underrepresented voice to be heard, necessarily means one wants power, or at least not a negative form of power. And anyway, if wanting to be heard is equated with wanting power, the men on that stage wanting to be heard wanted power and by MacArthur’s own logic, thereby should not have power. (watch the video here)
I am not a theologian. I’m not an expert on race theory or gender theory or intersectionality or anything, really. I’m a person in the world who reads or listens to stuff and thinks stuff.
I don’t understand how intersectionality doesn’t matter in the world. When I look at what I experience as a straight white Christian American woman, it seems that all these parts of me, and all the other parts of me, too, have an impact on my life and experiences, many of them overlapping impacts. When I look at how others view and engage in the world, it seems the same for them. When I read the Bible, it seems these intersecting realities of who humans are matters.
I see Hagar, an abused sex slave from Egypt, probably black, a woman. I can’t imagine how her gender and her status and her race don’t intersect. I see Esther, from a despised religious minority and possibly ethnic minority as well, a vulnerable young woman, trafficked into the king’s bedroom and I can’t imagine how her gender, religion, and ethnicity don’t intersect. I see laws about how to treat slaves or laws about how and when to sell off one’s daughters and about whom one is allowed to marry and they all have overlapping spheres of identity. It seems like gender, race, national origin, age, and more have a lot to do with power and life experience.
The problem here wasn’t just about how women are treated and spoken about but about how minorities and marginalized communities are treated and spoken about.
Please, people from these communities, don’t go home. I need your voice, we need your voice. How can we grow and change and sharpen ourselves if we are only surrounded by or hearing from people just like us?
After 17 years in the Horn of Africa, I am beyond grateful for how I’ve grown through being immersed in a community that forces me to be intentional and thoughtful about what I believe and how I behave.
It is not okay to shut out the voices and opinions of people who disagree with us or who challenge us or who are not like us. I’m not saying we need to agree, but we do need to be kind and humane and respectful. We need to exhibit the fruits of the spirit, both those in positions of power and those not in those positions. Cruelty and laughter and disparaging comments are not the way to accomplish this.
Come on out, bring a friend! I would LOVE to see you in person.
Mostly, I’m in Djibouti and if you live here and want to host a book event, WOW and AWESOME and please get in touch!
But, for the next month, I’ll be in the USA and if you are near these cities, I would so much love to see you. Come on out and bring a friend and let’s meet IN PERSON and with our actual faces and voices, what a pleasure that would be.
As more events are added, I’ll try to keep you updated.
All events listed are free and open to the public.
Books will be for sale, through The Potter’s House bookstore
October 10 Washington D.C. 6:30-8:00 pm In conversation with Heather Rice-Minus. At the American Enterprise Institute 1789 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Books will be for sale, thanks to our friends at The Potter’s House.
October 14 Colorado Springs, Colorado, Glen Eyrie HQ building: 3820 N. 30th St, room 256C, books will be available in the bookstore. 12:00-1:00
October 15 Chicago, Illinois, at Wheaton College. In conversation with Professor Drew Bratcher 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. Todd M. Beamer Center Lower Level, Phelps Room
October 18 Minneapolis/St. Paul LAUNCH PARTY at Afro Deli 6:00 pm 5 West 7th Place. St Paul, MN
There will be a Q/A time, books for sale, I’ll be signing them, there will be fun door prizes, and great food by Afro Deli, be sure to order more from the menu, too, you’ll want to try all the deliciousness. I can actually say: Djiboutiliciousness because the owner is Djiboutian! We have changed places: me, the Minnesotan in Djibouti and him, the Djiboutian in Minnesota. Come on out, enjoy a night of good food, friends, and celebration.
Books will be for sale, through Maegers and Quinn bookstore.
October 24 St. Olaf, Minnesota I’ll be speaking with students 8:00 a.m. This is the only event that is just for the students, but if you are nearby, let me know and we can connect after the class.
October 26 St. Paul, Minnesota Location and time TBD, MinneSLIFE event
October 27 Moundsview, Minnesota
Back to the Horn of Africa…